A recent article by Marina Keegan, a Yale undergraduate, points out that the high percentage of Ivy undergrads who go into consulting and finance may have to do with how well those places recruit: Another View: The Science and Strategy of College Recruiting.
"Sometime between freshman fall and senior spring, an insane number of students decide – one way or another – that entering the banking industry makes a whole lot of sense. A few weeks ago I interviewed over 20 Yalies to try to figure out why.
"What I found was somewhat surprising: the clichéd pull of high salaries is only part of the problem. Few college seniors have any idea how to “get a job,” let alone what that job would be. Representatives from the consulting and finance industries come to schools early and often – providing us with application timelines and inviting us to information sessions in individualized e-mails. We’re made to feel special and desired and important."
Vikram Rao, who brought the article to my attention, writes
"... I thought one of the interesting points of the article is that these companies do a very good job of getting to the best students quickly (seems like an unraveling market) by recruiting in the fall, spending lots of money on recruiting, and presenting students with a well-defined process. I know from personal experience having gone to Princeton that they also do a very good job of outlining the parameters of the job market (i.e. if you intern with us/apply for full time with us at this time, then you will receive an offer at time X for Y dollars with roughly Z probability). Their interview process is also extremely efficient. The article makes the point that most college students don't really know how to find a job. These companies eliminate a lot of this uncertainty by having such well-established recruiting timetables and processes.
A similar view, from the point of view of what career counseling offices do, is expressed by Peter Bozzo, writing in the Harvard Crimson: Profits and Bridges
"The more intriguing question is why students—many of whom, like me, were inspired to create during their years at Harvard—eschew careers in the more “creative” professions and pursue work in the financial world. Why are we creating profits instead of bridges?
The Occupy Harvard movement seems to agree: Occupy Harvard Rally for Free Speech Targets Goldman Sachs Recruiting Event
Of course, recruiting isn't something that can only be done by some kinds of employers.Teach for America is also known for the good job it does: see my recent post on that...
How Elite Firms Hire: The Inside Story